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Thread: Motorcycle Camping ...

  1. #1

    Motorcycle Camping ...

    I'll start this thread off with a quote from my Canadian friend Carl who has moto-camped all across the US and Canada. "Yah knew Mike ... I have only just recently deescovered thet not everyone theenks like I doo, eh..." My point is what is just the best thing evah for me may not be the cat's pajamas for you and versa versa...

    It seems logical to begin with tents. Generally that will be our 'home' away from home. The car camping tent is generally just too big and bulky for easy carrying on a bike ... so we are looking at backpacking style tents. If I am 1-up camping I can just go light ... I don't have to think ultra-light. And I can lean towards room and comfort. A great feature at REI online is their "compare" feature.

    Let's take the tent Atomicalex just bought, the Passage 1 and compare it with the Passage 2. Cost $139 to $159, packed weight 4 lbs 3 oz to 5 lbs 5 oz, packed size 7.5" x 21" vs 7.5"x 22", vestibule 8 sq' vs 18.5 sq', floor area 20 sq vs 33.5 sq, ht 36" vs 42", 1 door vs 2 doors... The reviews are similar with the "2" being a half star higher. (It is important to read the reviews to see if there is a deal killer.)

    A number of other things are also compared but those I listed are the ones that grab me for moto-camping. Price is what it is to each of us. ! ln 2 ounces might make a difference to me if I was carrying it on my back but means almost nothing 1-up riding. A really long tent is a pain to carry on a bike but 21 or 22 mox nix. I generally put my bikes luggage in the vestibule area so that's important to me Boots and helmet come in the tent after I had a couple of bugs crawling around my feet/face while riding... which is why I want more room inside. And if I wake up to heavy day long rain ... a roomier tent is ore inviting to spend the day in ... moving about reading etc. More height really comes into play for changing clothes and sitting up to read or just stretch. And an extra door is handy ... just make sure it is not a weak point like "leaks rain".

    Finally are the reviews. Read them with a filter... everyone wants to talk about how their new XYZ tent is just the best tent ever. Cut to the chase ... does it leak, does it 'sweat' on the inside, does it go up and come down quick and easy, does it last, does it breathe well for summer use or alternatively can you button it down to hold in some heat for shoulder season camping.

    Given all this.. I would have chosen the Passage 2 based on my experience and 'likes'. Alex is a thoughtful scientific type and she undoubtedly examined the same info and chose the 1. No wrong choice here ...just factor in what's important to you.

    Oh and add one more thing. A ground cloth. I generally cut my own to fit out of tyvex. If you do that cut it a little smaller than the floor so it doesn't trap water under the tent... Or you can buy a ground cloth made for your tent.
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  2. #2
    RiderCoach 1000 Posts! lionlady's Avatar
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    Hmm. Moto-camping. Did you know that there is a whole moto camping forum? I'm a member, motocampers.com they've got a recipe sub group, as well as one-up and two-up details. Pretty cool group.

    Anyway. We've got a 3 person and 2 person tent. The 2-person is Mountain Hardware brand. The bigger one is REI. AND a 12' square, Noah's tarp. The Noah's tarp is the game changer for all weather moto camping. If it's drizzly when you get to your site. Set up the Noah's tarp first (two poles and 4 guy lines), and then put up the tent under its shelter. The tarp can be positioned to provide shade over a picnic table or sitting area or over bikes and gear.

    I love going into REI and tent shopping, they let you set up a tent inside the store!
    If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

  3. #3
    Yes there is certainly a wealth of information about this across the web. I found the BMW forum to have a wealth of information before I owned a BMW ... though their choices tend towards the higher priced spread ... And ADVrider has a huge amounth of information. The problem with lots of information I find is mining it. The advantage of this forum is folks like you have already filtered and mined lots of info and can present what has worked for you.

    I have actually used a sil-nylon tarp backpacking just as you described but just didn't think to apply it to motorcycle camping. In an all day drizzle under the tarp is where we cooked and ate and just generally enjoyed the fine and pleasant misery (and weren't very miserable... ).
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  4. #4
    Well logically the next item should be sleeping bags ... but a comment by my friend Paul comes to mind. Paul is quite a bit older than me and he still puts down thousands and thousands of miles each year moto-camping....





    His answer to how he is still doing it (he doesn't have a wife to shamefully blame it on like some of the slackers here do ... ) is "It's all in having a really decent sleeping ... pad."

    Some 30+ years ago on a field maneuver with the Army I discovered Thermarest. Up until then the Army had issued us blow up air mattresses that were all uniformly matched in being unable to contain air. Something about the lowest bidder.. (They later issued us foam pads that you could glue together and land fully loaded C-130s on..) It's hard to fully describe what that early Thermarest meant to me. Comapred to some of today's cutting edge stuff it was pitiful.. but I slept better than just about anyone else (except for Brigade staff ... who stayed in motels on 'field maneuvers").

    I'm going to propose something radical here. You are probably better off with a $50 tent and a $100 pad than versa vice, especially if you are over 30. So do your homework on a pad. Go to REI or some other similar store and have them show you some and lie down on it for a while. When you find your favorite.. lie down on it for quite a while. Roll on it a little. Mortar fire won't awaken me once I am asleep so a pad that makes crinkle sounds doesn't bother me ... but it's a deal killer for Gigi. Is insulation important to you. That's all about what kind of temp you are camping in. If it is warmish weather you don't need the extra weight/price of an insulated pad. If it is coolish/cold .. think again. The sleeping bags insulation is going to be compacted under you and may not be very effective.
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  5. #5
    Moderator/RiderCoach 10,000 Posts! Clair's Avatar
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    Okay there is moto/bike camping and then there is backpacking camping.

    If you're not lugging that weight on your back, then I'm all for roominess and such. It might be jsut me but I'll always take a 2 or 3-person tent on the bike rather than a 1-person tent. Now if I"m backpacking, then I'm going light and I'll take the 1-person tent.

    My reasons ... I want room. I want room for me and room for my crap. I want all my mc gear inside the tent with me. Boots, pants, jacket, helmet, all that. I want two doors, so I can get in/out either side depending on how I've set things up. I want a rain cover / fly that goes all the way to the ground so in the event of rain Im totally protected.

    Sure, I can leave boots and gear outside the tent under the tent vestibule, but that allows bugs, snakes, and so on to make it home during the night. I dealt with that enough in the Army, I don't want to deal with it now. So I want that gear in the tent with me. ALso, it's nice to not have frost on your gear before you put it on. SO I need at least a 2-person tent to give me that room. I also want my bag or side case that has my clothes and stuff in the tent with me so I have access to everything I Need. Again since I'm not carrying the weight but the bike is, I can pack a bit extra if need be.

    Mostly right now I bike camp with a 3-person tent when I'm solo. It's got a good large footprint iwthout being overly huge. It's tall enough inside that I can easily sit up and actually mostly stand up to dress. I can fit all my crap inside and still not feel cramped. The tent packs small enough to fit into one of my Pelican side cases so it packs small. I do have a 2-person tent I can use on occasision, but mostly I MC camp with me 3-person.
    Ride safe, ride smart, ride ATGATT because sweat dries faster than scars heal

    2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC
    2009 Kawasaki ER-6N

    * If you love your bike set it free. If it comes back to you, you've High Sided


  6. #6
    RiderCoach 1000 Posts! lionlady's Avatar
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    3 Critical ingredients to moto camping: Shelter, sleeping comfort, cooking (optional)

    We've moto-camped, and I love my self-inflating mattress. That said, I so lust after one of those camplite cots. The kind that suspends you just inches off the ground. Thing is they're about $150, and with the few trips we take, I can't justify that expense. If someone were to give me one, I might just go moto-camping more often.

    Then there's having a sane method to packing your camping stuff. I learned this critical method from the original Helen2Wheels web site. I still have my "tent bag" which is heavy water-proof canvas. I can jam in my tent (either size), and poles, stakes, and tarp. Everything together in a sturdy long roll, that can't get crud on anything else I'm packing.

    1. Have a separate roomy draw-closure bag for your tent/shelter (leave the tent's stuff sack at home). Stuff tent, groundcloth, and poles into the bag in "reverse" order of how you'll need them. So, poles along one side - to give shape to the bag, tent in first, then ground cloth, then tarp (or reverse those last two). I'll bring my helmet inside the tent, and stuff something into the top of my boots, leaving them outside in the vestibule.
    >>At take down, pull the tent down and stuff into sack as you dis-assemble everything. Then jam in your tarp and the ground cloth. Since you're using a separate "shelter bag" you don't have to worry about getting your sleeping bag wet. Keep the wet stuff separate from the dry stuff.
    2. Pack your sleeping bag and pad in its own waterproof sack I've got a SeaLine 34qt(?) dri bag for this. THIS method is GENIUS!!
    Uninflate and roll up your sleeping pad tightly. PUT it into the waterproof bag, then put your hand down inside the roll and open it up, (unroll it) to fit against the sides of the bag. Now, jam your sleeping bag into the center space you've created. Stuff a sweathshirt or other warm layer in on top, for handy access once you're setting up camp, or if needed on the road.
    3. Have your clothes packed, rolled up, in "outfits." I put undies and spare socks separate from outfits. I like to use a nylon re-usable grocery bag inside my hard cases for clothes. That way, I can leave the hard bags on the bike and not bring the road grunge inside the tent. This might be worthwhile for soft luggage as well, especially if you encounter rain. I put my sleep/lounge wear into the clothes bag last, so I can put it on once I'm settling into camp. Flip flops get tucked in whatever odd space I find.
    4. I don't pack food for camping, except coffee, maybe instant oatmeal - and the JetBoil.

    EXTRA GIZMOS that are dang useful: LED light. I'm currently over the moon delighted with the mPowerd Aura inflatable lights. THey pack flat, are nearly indestructable, and can be set to emit blue-white bright light or candle yellow soft light, as well as 6 other shades, and a kalidescope of all 8. Red, Green, Blue, Violet, Orange, Aqua.
    If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

  7. #7
    Moderator/RiderCoach 10,000 Posts! Clair's Avatar
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    From last Fall's North Rim trip ...



    Ride safe, ride smart, ride ATGATT because sweat dries faster than scars heal

    2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC
    2009 Kawasaki ER-6N

    * If you love your bike set it free. If it comes back to you, you've High Sided


  8. #8
    RiderCoach 1000 Posts! lionlady's Avatar
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    Ah, Thermarest!! LOVE mine!! I've also got a Big Agnes "inflatable" as supplemental padding, if needed. I prefer my down mummy-bag. It packs to nothing and I can roll around (I'm a stomach sleeper), and not let in a whoosh of cold air from the open top of a rectangle bag.

    And don't forget camp seating. Made the mistake of not bringing a chair (or pad) for a weekend, and man was my arse sore from parking on logs and picnic benches. I've got a Thermarest "sit-upon" that packs small and easy, plus my beloved Kermit chair. I don't camp without one or both of those anymore.
    If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

  9. #9
    I tend towards your way of thinking Clair ... except ...

    I have this bad habit of taking too much crap. And this is an area 2-up camping has really helped me with. When you are carrying another person and their clothes and stuff ... you have to really think about what you take. Maybe a thin little credit card is better than things you might need (but never have). It's not just the weight and bulk ... it's how all the junk spread about has to be repacked each morning and the time it takes... . Still that is about choices. Some of the BMW folk carry enough tools for instance ... to completely dis-assemble their motorcycle... and enough parts to build a new one ...

    Ok ... the third item. A sleeping bag. Lots of personal preference here. When I did a lot of canoe camping synthetic was required. If you have ever gotten a down bag wet you know why. OTOH if it's insulation per pound you are emphasizing ... good down just can't be beat..and in the mummy shape. Now I hate having my feet restricted ... but if it's really cold ... I want a quality down mummy bag ... and a sleeping hat.

    But we are (mostly) not dealing with this here. Still get a bag that is rated for at least 10 degrees colder than the absolute coldest you expect. I can remember in the Army some chair bound warrior equiped us field types each with a poncho and a poncho liner for light weight sleeping gear. Might work with some 25 year old Ranger ... didn't work at all for a 50 year old pilot.

    And check the forecast where you will be. If you check Waynesboro, VA because it's close to the 3,000 feet higher Peaks of Otter... you are going to freeze your caboodles off. Good deals on last years cold bags can be had now ... and good deals on warmer weather bags can be had next Fall ... I like full footed Summer bags... but that's just me. I do not suggest you get the huge hunt camp cabin bags ... they are just too big and bulky. Get good down and get good synthetic (which means light weight per warmth power) and they compress nicely. I also have mostly switched from polartec to primaloft for light weight vests. Incredible warmth per ounce...
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  10. #10
    No surprise I have the Helen Twowheels system lionlady mentions... her "Rules for Motorcycle Packing is worth repeating ...

    FIRST RULE: A tightly packed bag is a happy bag! Packed tight and attached tight to the bike.

    SECOND RULE: Keep the wet stuff away from the dry stuff!

    DRY stuff: sleeping bag, thermarest, clothes, etc.

    WET stuff: tent, drop cloth, yaddah yaddah

    THIRD RULE: Keep the long hard stuff away from the soft squishy stuff!

    The DRY stuff is also SOFT stuff… and is compressible…

    The WET stuff is often LONG HARD stuff… and will rub holes in the ends of your bag if compressed.

    I have her cord closed sacks (semi water proof to allow a wet put away tent to air a mite) and her roll top bags (waterproof) in two sizes and find them very secure (using Helen's straps) and a useful system. OTOH a buddy had the gynormous Motofizz seat bag ... which seemed awesome until he used it. It was just such a pain in the butt to get to things.... which brings me to the one problem with Helen.

    In theory ... all camping gear is carried in her two bags. Some things are carried in my two side bags .. and immediate action items are carried in the tankbag. Until I need something in the sidebag .. which to access means I have to loosen Helens strap(s). Minor annoyance mostly my fault.
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

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